Sunday, May 9, 2021

Well, So Much for the Romans.


I stood and looked in awe at the Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany in early 1962. Not only Germany’s oldest building, but the gateway to an Empire! The famed Roman Empire!

From here, the Romans conquered the British Isles and much of Europe. The Roman Limes extended from Provenz Germania Superior to the border with the Germanic tribes to the east in Provence Raetia. The Romans built streets that still exist, and you can still walk on if you visit the Cathedral in Koln, just north of Trier.

I’ve been enthralled with the prowess of Roman engineering and logical skills ever since my senior year in high school, way back in !(^) - yes, that’s intentional - when a book was circulated among my class about the Circus Maximus. To me, the astonishing technology and perseverance was the pinnacle of human intellect, perhaps the basis of our own civilization.

But no more!

A recent article by Ingrid Faust in the New Yorker Staatz-Zeiting & German Times spoiled it all. According to Frau Faust, Roman Emperor Augustus is said to have been such a great fan of asparagus that he had his favorite vegetables brought into the games on his orders. Asparagus! Really, And it gets worse!

Apparently Cato the Elder described the exact cultivation method of asparagus around 175 BC. The Romans may have developed this odd taste for stringy, tasteless vegetables from the Greeks, but, honestly, I was never impressed with the ancient Greeks. Now I have to revise my opinion of the Romans.

I don’t dare publicize my opinion of the hallowed White Asparagus, developed by the French in the 16th century - obviously they thought it needed improvement -  with my German friends, they may not let me back into the country. According to, “white asparagus (wei├čer spargel) is celebrated (literally) in Germany with festivals from April to June. If you’ve never had white asparagus, it is exactly like green asparagus but without chlorophyll (the green in plants that helps generate oxygen in the photosynthesis process). It has to do with the deliberate harvesting process. Germans like it because it’s sweeter and more tender than the green variety.”

One of my favorite pieces was from Huffington post a few years back was entitled “How to cook asparagus you’ll actually want to eat.” Really, It’s at

but in my mind, it doesn’t work, either. even has a page for the top seven asparagus substitutes. If you search the Internet, you’ll find myriad articles like “Why can I NOT cook asparagus right?” and “Why does asparagus make your pee smell?”

Obviously, the Romans did not have the Internet. I don’t know what the German excuse is.

And this is from a writer who likes fried Okra!

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